An active city is a healthy city. It’s common knowledge that physical activity has a positive impact on health. It reduces the risk of chronic illnesses including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain cancers. The troubling reality is that chronic diseases are the leading cause of death in Toronto despite the widespread understanding that regular physical activity could address this. Toronto Public Health (TPH) understands that it’s more than simply knowing what we need to do to be healthy, we need to be able to realistically incorporate physical activity into the limited space of busy day-to-day lives. It’s no wonder then that they have assumed the valuable role of healthy urban design advocate, championing walking and cycling for transportation and identifying the significant influence of urban design on how people choose to travel each day.
Using evidence to inform policy and practice, TPH has worked to document how our transportation choices impact our health and, more importantly, they have raised awareness of the role the built environment plays in either providing or limiting the choice to travel actively. Beginning with the Road to Health released in 2012 up until last month’s publication of Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety in Toronto, they have been building an undeniable case for improving the design of streets to increase walking and cycling in the city through their reports and awareness campaigns.
To see TPH’s contribution only in the form of evidence-based reports however is to miss the valuable role they play as an innovative collaborator within the City. TPH links their expertise to outcomes in partnership with Transportation Services and the Department of Planning as was evidenced during the June 29th Board of Health decision to give support to the Ontario Minister of Transportation for amendments to the Highway Traffic Act permitting municipalities to adopt lower default speed limits according to their local context.
TPH’s support for the 2015 Complete Streets Forum reflects these collaborative values and inspires renewed partnerships among the diverse attendees. Each year, the Forum brings together public, private and non-profit sectors for an engaged day of presentations, tours and workshops. Through the invaluable support and leadership provided by TPH, this year’s Forum will continue to build momentum for safe and accessible streets that allow all people to live actively.
Click here for more information about all of the generous sponsors who are making the 2015 Complete Streets Forum a reality.